How to Do the Bear Plank for Stronger Abs and Total-Body Stability

Everyone in the gym has their own ideas well-nigh ab training. And the majority of people seem to hate it. It’s the one thing most lifters leave to the end of their workout in favor of movements for other soul parts, if they scarecrow to train their cadre at all.

People often neglect core training considering it can be grueling, boring, or just plain difficult. But it doesn’t have to be any of that. Simple and constructive cadre training starts with the basics. When it comes to simple cadre training, it’s nonflexible to write-up what’s arguably the most ubiquitous of all cadre exercises in the gym, the archetype plank. But when it comes to stuff both simple and effective, take the plank to the next level.

Credit: Human Form Fitness / YouTube

Enter, the withstand plank. This upgraded plank position is both easier to learn than the archetype and it hits your cadre harder. Here’s how to get a win-win for your cadre workout.

Bear Plank

How to Do the Withstand Plank

The withstand plank, or bear-stance plank, refers to holding a ground-based position using straight arms and wilting legs, rather than straight stovepipe and straight legs (like a standard plank position). Your weight is supported on your hands and toes, with no other bases of support, but your legs are wilting and your knees are very slightly whilom ground-level.

Step 1 — Hands, Knees, and Toes

Step 1 of doing a withstand plank.
Credit: Christian Fabrizio / YouTube

Get on the ground and support your soul with your hands, knees, and feet. Set your hands directly under your shoulders, not in front or overdue them. Place your feet hip-width apart.

Get an injudicious 90-degree joint wile at your knees. If your legs are too bent, the movement won’t be challenging unbearable and you’ll risk resting your knees on the ground. If your legs are too straight with your knees overdue your hips, you’ll end up looking like a poorly performed standard plank, which defeats the purpose of the exercise.

Form Tip: Your overall position should be comfortable, square, and balanced. Take the time to trammels the position of your hands, shoulders, knees, hips, and feet. Squint directed lanugo to the ground or slightly in front of your hands. Cranking your throne to squint forward will only stress your neck.

Step 2 — Lift Your Knees and Brace

Step 2 of doing a withstand plank.
Credit: Christian Fabrizio / YouTube

Bring your knees just a few inches off the ground and alimony them in line with your feet. Don’t let your shins or knees wobble in or out of alignment. Flex every muscle from your toes to your wrists. Although this is a core-focused exercise, the increasingly muscles surrounding the cadre you can moreover contract to promote stability, the better. (1)

Squeeze your quads, glutes, and hips. Think well-nigh driving your hands and feet into the floor as nonflexible as possible without unquestionably raising your body. Alimony your knees off the ground and maintain well-constructed tension for the duration of each set.

Form Tip: Don’t only focus on flexing your abs. Achieving full-body tension will contribute to a largest quality withstand stance which will make the movement harder and require increasingly effort, which can yield largest results.

Bear Plank Mistakes to Avoid

Even though the withstand plank is a static exercise with no “moving parts,” there are still some worldwide technique errors that will prevent maximum tension or limit progress.

Poor Knee Position

When your knees are touching the ground, your soul has very little need to stabilize, so you’re not unquestionably performing the exercise. Keeping your knees elevated moreover helps to maintain a strong hip position and prevent back rounding. This can moreover help maintain tension through your hamstrings, glutes, core, and trunk.

person in home gym doing push-up on knees
Credit: Benjavisa Ruangvaree Art / Shutterstock

Avoid it: Set your knees directly under your hips or tailbone, not far when in a nearly straight position. When you uncork the exercise, imagine having a tray of wet paint towards under your knees. Stay tight, stay focused, and alimony your legs clean. If your knees dip lanugo into the “paint,” end the set, rest briefly, and try again.

Bending Your Arms

The fully supported withstand plank position uses your fully straightened stovepipe to support your upper soul while your lower soul is supported by wilting legs. Limp your upper stovepipe changes the overall wile of your torso and alters your part-way of gravity.

long-haired person in home gym doing kneeling push-up
Credit: fizkes / Shutterstock

This makes the exercise less constructive overall and emphasizes the relatively smaller muscles of your stovepipe and shoulders to support the majority of your body’s weight, compared to dispersing the tension throughout your unshortened body.

Avoid it: Alimony your stovepipe locked straight during the exercise. If your shoulders or triceps fatigue excessively, end the set. Over time, your muscles will transmute by towers strength and endurance to support the position.

How to Progress the Withstand Plank

The withstand plank is a relatively a simple movement, so the natural inclination of a lifter would be to seek ways to make it increasingly difficult once they’ve “graduated” from the vital execution.

Add a Weight Vest

Adding a weight vest creates a heavier load to withstand when in position, requiring plane increasingly from the trunk for stability and positioning. However, the typical weight distribution of a standard weight vest (with the weighted inserts often placed virtually the midsection) creates plane greater temptation for the spine to slip into an protuberant or extended position. That ways increasingly reliance on your abs to negate this repositioning and alimony your spine flat.

Credit: Depth Training and Physiotherapy Waterloo / Youtube

Keep in mind that using a weight vest usually goes hand-in-hand with reducing the value of time spent in the plank position. Focus on high-quality performance rather than just achieving long durations.

Shoulder Taps

In the typical bear-stance plank, there are four points of contact with the floor — two hands and two feet. That ways forces are distributed evenly among all those points. As soon as one of those points of contact leaves the floor, there are widow demands on the soul to resist waffly position to recoup for reduced stability. In the withstand plank, these are rotational forces and resisting them would be termed “anti-rotation.”


Since a massive function of your cadre is to twosome and work versus unwanted outside forces, the simple shoulder tap is a unconfined way to train anti-rotation from a withstand stance. Work nonflexible to stay square and alimony your when and trunk parallel to the floor without twisting or shifting. Try sets of 12-20 shoulder taps, successive hands as you go along. Remember to move slowly with control.

Bear Dogs

Assuming a bear-stance starting position allows you to maintain a much increasingly neutral spine when in starting position, as previously discussed. The vital bird dog exercise is a cadre stability movement that many lifters can master, but taking things to the next level involves some strategy. Withstand dogs are a smart modification that provide all of the benefits in stoping contralateral stability (coordinating left and right limb movements).

Keep sets very low-rep, such as three or four reps per side. Instead of progressing with higher reps, opt for increasingly total sets. This ensures you can focus on high-quality repetitions while lamister too much fatigue which would prevent good performance.

Benefits of the Withstand Plank

The withstand plank, like all types of plank exercises, can be a top-level cadre strengthening drill. The total-body tension and rectal vivification can siphon over to provide stability in other strength-focused exercises.

Better Ab Recruitment

The withstand plank works well as a modification or volitional to vital planks, while stuff much increasingly constructive in targeting the abs due to simple changes in positioning. The abs are much increasingly difficult to fully engage in a archetype plank due to the long-legged position. Everyone naturally has a slight wily (lordotic curve) in their lower backs, and it’s expressly present when standing up straight. The same issue applies when we get into a typical plank position.

However, when sitting down, it’s a lot harder to maintain the same stratum of when arch. When you’re limp your knees to sit down, your pelvis tends to rotate “under” your soul into increasingly of a posterior tilt, making the spine exit extension and whet toward neutral or plane a flexed position — that’s part of what makes you “slouch” when you sit.

Using that to our wholesomeness can go a long way in its efficacy for cadre training. While it can be tough to alimony a unappetizing spine using a archetype plank, opting for the withstand plank scrutinizingly ends up mimicking a seated position while kneeling. This transpiration in knee wile moreover affects your pelvic position and brings your lumbar spine into a much increasingly neutral state, which is unconfined news for targeting and vitalizing your abdominals. (2)

Simplified Technique

The withstand plank is both a increasingly challenging plank modification considering it hits the abs harder than most other plank variations will. Fortunately, it’s moreover a less challenging modification considering it’s relatively easier to perform for most lifters.

A lifter looking to take their cadre training game to the next level of quality and effectiveness can’t go wrong with the withstand plank. Doubling lanugo on the exercise by applying the wide methods listed later in this vendible will be gold for keeping your training interesting while providing a unfurled rencontre to trunk strength and stability.

Muscles Worked by the Withstand Plank

Any exercise in the plank family will first and foremost target your cadre muscles. The withstand plank, specifically, recruits these crucial stabilizing muscles largest than many other exercises due to your overall soul position.

Rectus Abdominis

When all four limbs are on the ground, the withstand plank primarily focuses on the rectus abdominis muscles — the soul part that most people reference when they say “six-pack”. The goal of the exercise is to alimony the strength of the muscular wrinkle resulting and high-intensity.

Transverse Abdominis

The transverse abdominis is the “inner layer” of the rectal wall. During the withstand plank, or any high-effort cadre bracing, your transverse abs will be firing at maximum topics to provide stability to your unshortened trunk, like beams of a house giving stability to the outer framework.


Your obliques, on the sides of your abdominals, are responsible for rotating your trunk and thoracic spine, as well as resisting rotation. During the withstand plank, your obliques are zingy to help prevent tipping over sideways.

A tropical up of a muscular person's obliques.
Credit: ThomsonD / Shutterstock

Anytime you lift a hand or foot during any anti-rotational withstand plank variations, your obliques take on significantly increasingly work. They will be asked to isometrically contract to alimony the cadre from twisting out of position.

How to Program the Withstand Plank

The withstand plank can be plugged into any number of workout programs, either as a warm-up and vivification drill, a focused cadre training exercise, or as part of a conditioning workout.

High Intensity for Time

The withstand plank, and all plank variations, are somewhat unique to other exercises you can perform considering they’re typically not washed-up for multiple repetitions. Instead, focus on achieving maximum tension from head-to-toe and holding that tension for a specific time — using your phone’s timer full-length comes in real handy for this. Aim for anywhere from five to 30 seconds of fully flexed tension for two to five sets.

Just like you “shouldn’t” use poor form to squeeze out a few uneaten reps of squats, you shouldn’t indulge yourself to gradually wield less and less tension as a set goes on just to hit a pre-set time limit. When you finger the focused tension falling less than 100%, stop the set, rest, and do another.

Variations of the Withstand Plank

Once you’ve mastered applying full-body tension with the withstand plank, you can transmute that skill and workout to other exercises for a variety of results.

Classic Plank

As popular and worldwide as the plank exercise is, the interesting truth is the fact that many people perform it poorly. Positioning the soul on your elbows and toes has proven to be a slightly increasingly taxing task than meets the eye, expressly with form cues to ensure your abs are working their hardest. For starters, it’s important to remember that the viscera posteriorly tilt the pelvis.

A person performing a archetype plank.
Credit: TORWAISTUDIO / Shutterstock

That ways keeping your when unappetizing with your stump squeezed and “tucked in” is far superior to keeping your when slightly (or generously) arched. Doing the latter will negate the purpose of the exercise.

Actively “pull inward” with your elbows in an struggle to move your ribcage lanugo toward the hips. This keeps your cadre braced while contracting as nonflexible as it can. This is an important cue, as it’s really easy to “hang out and chill” when performing a plank, enabling someone to stay in position for minutes on end. It’s much increasingly constructive to hold an intense wrinkle for 30 seconds or less, than to hold a poor quality position for three, five, or 45 minutes.

Bear-Stance Renegade Row

Doing renegade rows from a bear-stance position isn’t only harder and increasingly intense for the abs, it’s moreover an easier way for you to seem the right lumbar (lower back) posture. Your pelvis enters proemial (forward) tilt and your soul has to find a way to alimony your glutes and lower abs engaged unbearable to overcome this. This isn’t easy in the presence of fatigue.

Making the switch to wilting knees with tilt your pelvis posteriorly (backward) just unbearable to enforce a neutral spine, potentiating increasingly lower ab involvement while leaving the glutes less involved. If the goal is cadre training, this is an platonic “gym hack.” The inclusion of the row pattern (which shouldn’t use a very weight) will moreover train your upper when to write posture, strength, and development.


Should I uncork with the withstand plank or the archetype plank?

Because the bear-stance plank puts your hips in a increasingly efficient position, it can be a largest starting point for many lifters. It’s moreover relatively harder to “cheat” during the withstand plank, unless you rest your knees on the ground or stand up too high.
With the standard plank, it’s worldwide to see lifters dropping their hips and creating a U-shape with their body, losing tension throughout their core. Either movement can be constructive when washed-up properly, but it can be redundant and inefficient to perform them both in the same workout.

When should I add weight?

Apply the same principles as any bodyweight exercise — when your current programming (sets and duration) are no longer challenging, you can add a small load to increase the difficulty. With the withstand plank, that could midpoint subtracting a very light weight vest when you can perform multiple sets of 20 to 30 seconds while maintaining upper tension for the duration.
Just like you might go from a set of 12 bodyweight pull-ups to a set of three weighted pull-ups, don’t be surprised if you waif from 30 seconds of unweighted withstand planks to sets of five seconds with a weighted withstand plank.

Get Down, Knees Up

There are hundreds of rectal and oblique-focused exercises that might help a lifter get stronger and increasingly conditioned, but it doesn’t have to get too fancy. Taking a vital plank and turning it into a bear-stance can be all that’s needed to step your training up a notch or two. Exercise doesn’t need to be complicated for good things to happen — quality is king. The withstand plank is a unconfined example of emphasize simple and constructive training stuff the path to largest results.


  1. Gontijo, L. B., Pereira, P. D., Neves, C. D., Santos, A. P., Machado, D.deC., & Bastos, V. H. (2012). Evaluation of strength and irradiated movement pattern resulting from trunk motions of the proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation. Rehabilitation research and practice, 2012, 281937.
  2. Workman, Chad & Docherty, David & Parfrey, Kevin & Behm, David. (2008). Influence of Pelvis Position on the Vivification of Rectal and Hip Flexor Muscles. Journal of strength and workout research / National Strength & Workout Association. 22. 1563-9. 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181739981.

Featured Image: Susan Niebergall Fitness / Youtube

The post How to Do the Withstand Plank for Stronger Abs and Total-Body Stability appeared first on Breaking Muscle.


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